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by Monica Bearden, RD, and Shara Aaron, MS, RD

Related: Pregnancy, health, exercise, weight, nutrition, health, meals, snack, whole grain, fruit, vegetable, ,

  Oh, the joys of parenthood… sweet smiles, heavenly hugs, and memorable moments.  Even before having the child, we dream of these delights to come. 

   But wait! No one warns you that with these lovable children comes a new body with different eating rules.  Many moms find themselves unable to lose those last few pounds from pregnancy. In fact, women keep an average of five to 15 pounds from each pregnancy. This can add up quickly if you have more than one child. 

   So what’s the trick?  How do you get rid of the leftover weight that seems to want to stay put no matter what you do?  Believe it or not, you adopt a series of small changes that work for your new life as a mom, versus what many try to do, which is to go back to how they ate before. 

   And you may experience differences after each pregnancy.  You may have lost all the weight easily with your first, but may have kept some weight on from your second or third.  This is where you have to do a reality check – your pre-parenthood days are gone. It’s time for a new set of healthy eating and lifestyle habits.  By making some small changes in your daily life, you can (and will) lose the baby fat.

   For starters try these:

• Always eat breakfast at the same time everyday. Make sure to include whole grains and protein, such as low-fat yogurt with low-fat granola and blueberries (or whatever fruit you have at home) or a bowl of whole grain cereal and some fruit or egg whites with salsa and whole-wheat toast.

• Do not skip meals. Even if you are on the go, make sure to eat nutrient-rich foods every three to four hours. Pack fruit, yogurt, and low-fat trail mixes made with whole-wheat pretzels, almonds and dried fruit.  Having healthy snacks with you at all times also comes in handy as your baby grows into a hungry toddler.

• Manage the nighttime nibbles. It is tempting to enjoy an indulgent treat after the kids are asleep … and that is okay (within reason).  Just make sure you’re not sabotaging all of your good efforts.  Try eating a bowl of chocolate-flavored cereal with non-fat milk or melt a couple of small squares of dark chocolate on a graham cracker.  If salty and crunchy is what you are craving, dip some whole grain crackers in hummus and have a piece of crispy fresh fruit.

• Avoid eating your kid’s leftovers. Abandon the need to clean everyone’s plate.  This is easy to do when your baby is only having milk or pureed baby food, but it gets more challenging over time.  Pack up leftovers for later, so when your child asks for something to eat in 30 minutes, you’ll have something to give him.

• Eat foods that help you lose weight. Every day eat at least five servings of fruits and veggies, three servings of low-fat dairy, one-half cup of beans, one ounce of nuts, and use spices instead of salt in your cooking.  Including these foods daily can help take the pounds off.

MONICA BEARDEN, RD, and SHARA AARON, MS, RD, are the authors of the new book, The Baby Fat Diet: A busy mom’s guide to losing weight and looking fabulous (Penguin). For more tips on eating healthy and feeding your family, visit their blog at www.babyfatdiet.com.

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